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Pulmonary embolism is a common and potentially lethal disease; unfortunately, the diagnosis is often missed because patients with pulmonary embolism present with non-specific signs and symptoms. If left untreated, approximately one third of patients who survive an initial pulmonary embolism subsequently die from a future embolic episode. Most patients succumb to pulmonary embolism within the first few hours of the event. In patients who survive, recurrent embolism and death can be prevented with prompt diagnosis and therapy. In hospitalized elderly patients, pulmonary embolism is commonly missed and often is the cause of death. Most patients treated with anticoagulants do not develop long-term sequelae upon follow-up evaluation.
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